How to Adult Well

I wrote a completely different post, but then decided that rather than whine about how shitty things are, I’ll write up some tips for how to adult well with little money and little energy. :)

Everyone knows about our shitty 18 months and our losses and CC debt. It’s pretty massive. Nick has a shitty job paying $17/hr and I’ve got a couple of catering gigs. Even so, we are treading water and barely making ends meet. The payments on the CCs are negated by the high interest rates. So, not all that great. But despite all this, we still keep ourselves and our house clean, take care of our cars, eat good food and generally live pretty well.

How do we do it?

Well, it’s a multilayered thing. First, we’ve got good habits that carry us when we’re tired or stressed out over everything. That is the #1 most important key to adulting: good habits. Most people who live like animals wallowing in their own filth just don’t have any good habits to fall back on, other than ignoring the filth. Or ignoring the bills. Or ignoring the myriad other things that need attention.

Bad habits are the root of all failures to adult properly.

So, yes, we adult quite well. We have lots of good habits. We are grateful for that. But what can you do? You can be thrifty and you can learn habits to keep your home and self in tip-top shape!

Here is a list in no particular order of things you can do to stretch your money farther:

•Use coupons at the grocery store. I’ve done this for decades! I’ll bet I’ve saved enough for a house by now! LOL You can do digital ones (with your loyalty card at Kroger) or paper. I use both. The valuable ones from Kroger are always paper.

•Buy staples on sale or from the clearance shelves. We found bacon bits and dijon mustard on the markdown shelf for 1/4 the original price. We bought all of them. I rarely buy meat/chicken that is not marked down. Which brings me to the next item.

•Buy a chest freezer if you have space and can afford it. You can buy sale protein and freeze it. I’ve always got a ton of proteins in the freezer.

•Buy a vacuum sealer system to repackage the proteins for freezing. These things really do work.

•Join a warehouse club if you can justify the amount of stuff you have to buy at once. We ditched Costco because it was not working for a 2 person household, BUT I just reinstated it because it helps with catering. Choose wisely.

•Learn to cook. You don’t have to be a fucking chef, but learn how to make several things you like. This is where that discount protein comes in handy. And this will give you leftovers for your lunch.

•Pack your lunch. Nick has always taken lunch to work. We usually have leftovers and if not, I buy the frozen meals (on sale, of course!). Fast food is not only nasty, but pricey. Learn to LOVE YOUR LEFTOVERS. People who won’t eat leftovers drive me CRAZY. (Many chefs are like this, I’ve found. GAH! Not me, man!)

•Shop at discount stores.** Big Lots, Ollie’s and Dollar Tree are all great for certain things. Big Lots has several staple food items we use, disposables for my catering, and they usually have a good selection of brand name cleaning products discounted. Dollar Tree has my favourite trash bags (vanilla!!), plastics for catering and glassware. The cleaning products from Dollar Tree are typically not very good. Ollie’s is a true discounter, so you never know what you’ll find there. They had a ton of drug store items for a while, so we stocked up on our favourite toothpaste. They also had a ton of graphic novels for $3 ea, so we stocked up on those, too. :)

•Do the maintenance on your car. If you can’t afford the big stuff, just make sure the oil is changed on time. That alone will keep your car much healthier. If your car breaks down, that will impact you in terrible ways, so keep your car maintained. If you’ve got 100k miles on it and never changed the timing belt…you’d best find the money to get that shit done. A broken timing belt can kill your car. Allocate your money wisely.

•Should be obvious, but comparison shop. Compare store brands to name brands. I buy a ton of Kroger brand products that are equivalent (or sometimes better) than the name brand. Sometimes those bulk deals at Costco are NOT really a great deal. For instance, their 12 pk of tissues is more expensive than the Kroger brand 12 pack. Pay attention to prices, quality and convenience. It’s not really a deal if you make a separate trip to fetch it! Also: learn how to calculate per unit pricing. It is sometimes on the shelf at Kroger, but not always accurate.

Those are my shopping tips. Now, for some living tips:

•Clean as you go. I can’t stress this enough. CLEAN AS YOU GO. If the bathroom sink has some funk, keep cleaning wipes under the counter so you can grab one and swab the sink. Keep a toilet brush handy and swab the toilet when it gets gross. It takes 30 seconds! Same for putting dishes in the dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, then do the dishes ONCE A DAY. EVERY DAY. Break up cleaning into small tasks and you’ll get it all done. I think people who live in filth get overwhelmed and can’t see a way to get ahead of the mess. Break it into small tasks then DO THEM ONE AT A TIME. It will work. You’ve just got to be diligent.

•Give everything a home. I think this is the one thing I see the most in filthy homes: everything is strewn about and nothing has a home. NO your fucking tampons DO NOT live in the kitchen. NO your fucking clothes DO NOT live on the floor. If this is your problem, then get a labeler and LABEL EVERY STORAGE AREA with what lives there (the visual cue will help you remember to put things away). Then PUT THINGS AWAY. When you get home from the grocery, put that shit where it belongs. After you cook a meal, put the ingredients BACK and wash pans. Get into the habit of returning things to their homes. It’s amazing how this ONE HABIT can eliminate much of the clutter piling up.

•Speaking of laundry. DO THE LAUNDRY. Do not wear the same clothes 15 times. Do not let laundry pile up. When you have two loads, it’s time to do laundry. This is also linked to the clothes in the floor thing. If your clothes are strewn on the floor (clean AND dirty) then you never know when it’s time to do laundry. GET A HAMPER and USE IT. Put your clothes away directly after you get them out of the dryer and FOLD THEM. Do the whole task, not part of it.

•Clothes aren’t the only thing that needs regular washing. TAKE A FUCKING SHOWER. This seems to go hand in hand with the dirty clothes habit. People who wear the same clothes 15 times and don’t do laundry seem to be the same people who don’t shower regularly. SHOWER EVERY DAY. I know this sounds basic, but I’ve seen this behavior over and over. When you go to a home and it smells of rank human? That’s because of dirty clothes and not showering. It gets into everything and makes your whole house SMELL. Trust me on this.

•Don’t forget to change/wash your bed linens once a week (or every other week if they don’t get smelly). And your towels. It’s the same thing: your stank gets into these things and will make your whole house smell of rank human. If your place is filthy, you will likely not notice this smell. That commercial about being nose blind? IT IS TRUE. You get used to it and it permeates everything. But trust me, other people smell it and it is gross. CLEAN YOUR FUNK OFF YOUR CLOTHES, LINENS AND FURNITURE. Learn to use Febreze when you clean.

•Febreze is NOT an equivalent to washing your clothes or cleaning your home. Use it WITH cleaning, not instead of it. You’re a hooman. We stank. Gotta be clean to stave it off!! Just remember: you shed skin cells on everything you touch or wear. Now think of all that funk in your stuff if you don’t clean it. Yeah. It’s gross.

•If you have a hard time remembering to do things, MAKE A TASK LIST and post it prominently. Check off what you’ve done. You’ll feel more accomplished and you’ll get things done, too. Do the WHOLE task, not part of it. It doesn’t count if you wash the clothes then throw them on the floor.

So, there ya go. A primer on How To Adult. All these items are things we do without even thinking about it, because we’ve trained ourselves with good habits. That’s all this is: HABITS. If you need to adult better, then print this shit out and use it as a guide.

Even the journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step. Just do one thing at a time and you’ll get there.

I always say we’re cheap bastards, and we are, BUT we use it strategically. I call us THRIFTY! This is how we keep our standard of living pretty high even when we’re broke. We cut out ALL extraneous expenses (pedicures, non-essential Dr visits, etc.) and we shop smart. We clean as we go, every day. IT WORKS.

**About discount stores. Not all products are created equal. Cleaning products are definitely in this category. Spend the extra money and get a good laundry detergent (Percil is the best I’ve found). If you want to stretch your Percil out, then get some Purex and alternate. I’ve found that a good detergent really is important to keep clothes fresh – especially if you do sweaty work. I’ve also found that dish soap and dishwasher detergent needs to be brand name. The cheap stuff simply does not work as well. I don’t use off brand shampoo, soap or toothpaste but I use coupons and/or buy at discount stores. This comes back to comparison shopping and using what works best – which is sometimes NOT the cheapest. Don’t fall into buying cheap shit all the time just because your budget is limited. Look for deals and discounts! I PROMISE you that the cheap laundry soap from the $1 store is NOT going to get your clothes clean. Spend a little more and it will raise your quality of life. TRUST ME.

Sleep Supplement Recs by an Insomniac

Insomnia is a very common issue. People do not get enough sleep or enough quality sleep these days. I’ve struggled with insomnia for literally decades. I’ve tried every aid out there and I’ve got a list of aids that work well. I alternate them depending on how I feel before bed. I take supplements every night.

We use various supplements to get sleep because we are notoriously bad sleepers. Here are some tips from long time insomniacs:

– DO NOT take a shit ton of melatonin! 3mg or less ONLY. Melatonin can turn on you if you take too much.
– Do not look at electronics before bed. If you do, get a blue blocker screen cover or use NIGHT mode.
– Same for when you wake up at night. This is one reason why I keep paper books! I try to avoid screen use when I’m struggling with sleep.
– Don’t bother with Rx shit like Ambien. It’s too much and overkill IMO.
– Be cognizant of your pre sleep habits! No caffeine, nicotine or alcohol.
– Get enough sleep. When you sleep badly, you’ll need MINIMUM of 8 hrs in bed, even if you toss and turn. We generally require 9 hrs to get enough REM sleep to feel refreshed, so give yourself enough time!

Sleep Supplements
Sleep supplements from Vitacost.

There are tons of supplements out there, just be careful of the amount of melatonin in them. Here are some that I’ve personally used and how they work for me:

Nature’s Plus Sleep Assure: I’ve used it forever, it’s got herbs and 3mg melatonin. Great stuff.
Herbs, Etc. Deep Sleep: all herbal, no melatonin. Great stuff, hella expensive.
OTC sleep aid Doxylamine Succinate (NOT diphenhydramine aka Benadryl) this works well, I’ve used it for years.
Synergy Sleep Support (Vitacost brand): Herbs and 3mg melatonin. Works very well!
Superior Source GABA melts, 100mg: GABA helps you fall asleep.
Bluebonnet Sleep Support: herbs and 5HTP. It has been working well.
Enzymatic Therapy Sleep Tonight: all herbal and VERY good! We are liking this one a lot!
Irwin Naturals Power to Sleep PM: no melatonin. This one has GABA and 5HTP, but overall doesn’t seem as effective as some of the others.
Jarrow Formulas Sleep Optimizer: This one has GABA and tiny bit of melatonin. It’s ok, but the ET is better.

Here is the list over at Vitacost, I highly recommend them for supplements, they have great pricing.

Time to Unload, Unpack and Move On

I have learned a lot in the past 3 years. I’ve taken a risk and gotten VSG surgery, I’ve tried to open a restaurant, failed, and lived through it…

Now I’m tired. Tired to the bone.

I think I’ve reached the time for me to unload some of the angst, anger, frustration and disappointment of the last year and a half. Then maybe unpack some lessons learned.

First of all, let’s go back to the VSG in 2016. THAT was one of the best decisions I’ve EVER made. Nick was working, we had the money, it was ALL GOOD. I’m happy with that move and I’d do it again. Even losing my trusty 1994 Honda Civic EX in 2017 turned out OK, for which I am grateful.

Now let’s move to the end of Nick’s job (Dec 2017) and where we were then.

Nick was making a very good living at NuVision after 20+ years. At the end, he was making $75k. We knew months in advance that the shop was closing – they were down to their last client (Rite Aid), which had been bought by Walgreens. When that shot clock started in mid 2017, we decided to see if we could perhaps roll our existing arcade business into a bigger, more lucrative concept: arcade pub.

We knew we didn’t have the money to start up something like this, so we asked one of Nick’s bosses if he might be interested in investing since NVG was closing, etc. He already owns a bar in Memphis, so we thought he might be amenable. He said he might, so I got to work on a business plan and projections. We had a coupla meetings and he seemed interested, but then he ultimately said no. We think it was actually his WIFE that said no. LOL

So we shelved the idea and Nick continued to close down NVG, which was a MASSIVE job. December of 2017, NVG finally closed for good, Nick got his severance and applied for unemployment.
Continue reading “Time to Unload, Unpack and Move On”

Progressive Capitalism Could Be Our Savior

I’m reading an article about Progressive Capitalism on marketwatch.com. It is a well written article by Joseph E. Stiglitz about neoliberalism’s long term effects and how progressive capitalism could end the decline we’ve been suffering for the last 40 years.

Neoliberalism is the idea that deregulation and trickle down economics will sustain the whole economy and bring prosperity to everyone. It was put forth by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the 80s and it is the driving force behind the economic decline of the US as well as the UK (and Europe in general). It is obvious that trickle down economics does not work and allowing the private sector to self regulate is folly.

The rise of megacorporations and oligopolies that control pricing and have zero competition has brought us high priced and low quality cell services and broadband. It has also brought us outrageously overpriced healthcare that is not sustainable by any stretch – and people are dying because of it.

The U.S., after all, stands alone among developed countries in not recognizing health care as a basic human right. Ironically, while the U.S. spends more on health care — both per capita and as a share of gross domestic product — than any other developed country, its predominantly private system delivers worse outcomes. U.S. life expectancy is barely higher than that of Costa Rica, a middle-income country with one-fifth the per capita GDP of America.

I agree with this statement 100%. It is crystal clear that the private corporation driven healthcare system we have does not work. Yet, it is all we will get as long as insurance corporations and big pharma control the government with lobbying dollars.

The Trump presidency has reminded us that such checks are indispensable for the proper functioning of democracy. But it has also exposed the limits of existing institutions (such as the Electoral College, through which the president is chosen, and the Senate, where a small state like Wyoming, with fewer than 600,000 people, has the same vote as California, with nearly 40 million), underscoring the need for structural political reform.

I’ve said for years that the dismantling of the checks and balances of our government will end in chaos. It’s happening. I’ve also said that the Electoral College should be eliminated completely. It is unnecessary and it is an anachronism. We have the technology to count the votes, so let’s count them. I, for one, am sick to death of having the POTUS installed despite NOT winning the popular vote. This is a huge red flag! Yet, this is what we get as long as fascists are in charge. Fascists love this system because it works for them.

At stake in both America and Europe is our shared prosperity and the future of representative democracy. The explosion of public discontent across the West in recent years reflects a growing sense of economic and in political powerlessness on the part of citizens, who are seeing their chances of having a middle-class life evaporate before their eyes.

Yes, indeed, we’ve watched our chance at a middle class life evaporate. We are currently living at poverty levels. If it weren’t for the credit card debt we’ve run up (about $50k), we’d be homeless right now. We are middle aged people who get jobs making $17/hr. This is seriously fucked up. I see jobs for $12/hr with requirements for a college degree all day long on the job sites. This is how far the economy has fallen. You’re expected to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a college degree, then you’re looking at a $12/hr job. How is this even reasonable?? It is NOT. But the whacked out economy with corporations running amok is how we got here. It is the race to the bottom and it is not coming, it is happening. Right before our eyes. We know, we’re living it. We will never retire. There’ll be no Social Security and we have no retirement savings, thanks to using it to start a business, which is the only way we’ll make enough money to pay our debts and keep a roof over our heads. Even with BOTH of us working full time at $17/hr, we’ll barely keep our heads above water. At least with our own company we can make enough to stay afloat and maybe, if we’re REALLY LUCKY, manage to save a little for retirement when we’re too broken to work any more. The Boomers never had to face these sorts of decisions. They got their fat stacks and they tell us to fuck off.

We have conducted a 40-year experiment with neoliberalism. The evidence is in, and by any measure, it has failed. And by the most important measure — the well being of ordinary citizens — it has failed miserably.

Yes, yes it has failed miserably. We are middle aged and broke. We have $50k of CC debt at 25% interest. We have shitty job opportunities. Hell, I can’t even FIND a job. At least Nick found something, but I’m here to tell you that we CANNOT live on $34k before taxes.

We are pretty much forced to pursue this pub concept. It is literally the only way we’ll be able to avoid bankruptcy.

So, I say bring on the progressive capitalism. We need to do something before we are all living in the streets while the top .01% eat cake. And let’s kick out the fascists while we’re at it.

Welcome to the new misangela.com!

For the 20th anniversary, I thought I’d give the old place a refurb!

I’ve not been able to get typekit to work with this theme, so the fonts are pretty bare, but otherwise, it’s clean and mobile friendly. I’m using Twenty Seventeen by WP.

I’m the only one who will give a shit about the typography, I know, but I do, dammit. Sigh.

Hope y’all like the new look. Headers will be my nature photography. Enjoy! (Yes I know my logo is blurry. Gotta get my graphics weasel on that to see why it won’t sharpen for me.)